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Research Guides

Engineering Undergraduate Library Skills

The CRAAP Test: A more systematic evaluation

Use the CRAAP Test to evaluate the quality and relevance of any information (print, online or other format) that you are considering for your assignment. 

Currency: The timeliness of the information.

  • When was it written, published, and/or last revised?
  • Are you looking at the most recent version?
  • If online, do all the links work?

Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Consider your audience and the intended audience of the information and compare with a variety of sources. 
  • Does it provide evidence or support your ideas?
  • Does it add anything to your work or would your assignment be just as good without it?
  • Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?

Authority: The source of the information

  • Who wrote the material? What are the author's qualifications?
  • Who produced or sponsored the information or what institution or organization are the author(s) affiliated with?
  • If there is a sponsoring organization, what is their purpose?
  • Is there an address to contact for more information?
  • If the material is protected by copyright, is the name of the copyright holder given.

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content.

  • Is the factual information verifiable with complete references?
  • Is the information free of grammatical, spelling, and other errors?
  • If statistical data is presented in graph or chart form, is it legible and clearly labeled?
  • Think about the source and look for evidence of bias or error.
  • Has the information been peer-reviewed or refereed?

Purpose: The reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? e.g public service, entertain, inform, opinion, propaganda, marketing, etc.
  • What is the intent of the author?
  • Does the information acknowledge other perspectives or conflicting information? Is it attempting to be objective?
  • Examine for political, religious, ideological, cultural, institutional or personal biases.

Crap Detection 101

  • Crap Detection 101 (blog post) - internet guru Harold Rheingold on determining the credibility of information found on the internet: "you have to think like a detective"
  • Companion video:

Evaluating content

Eventually in the research and writing process, you will need to engage more deeply with the content of your sources. 

Some advice: